Mathews, William Smythe Babcock



Critic and writer on musical subjects, who has greatly advanced music in Chicago; born in London, New Hampshire. His father was a clergyman, who encouraged the early manifestations of his son's talent and, when he was about eleven years old, had him take lessons of Mr. Folsom of Lowell. He afterward went to Boston to study with Mr. L. H. Southard, and there he enjoyed the friendship and encouragement of Lowell Mason. In 1852 he took a position in Appleton Academy at Mt. Vernon, New Hampshire, although not yet fifteen years of age. In 1860 he became professor of music in the Wesleyan Female College at Macon, Georgia, but in 1861 he was forced to resign his position owing to the Civil war. He supported himself till after the close of the war by teaching at Macon, Georgia; Danville, West Virginia and Marion, Alabama. In 1867 Mr. Mathews came to Chicago as organist of the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, where he remained until 1893, and the following year he became editor of the Musical Independent, which went out of existence at the time of the Chicago fire, 1871. From 1877 to 1887 he was musical critic on the staffs of the Chicago Herald, Record, and Tribune, and v as one of the best of western critics. In 1891 he founded the magazine, Music, of which he was editor and one of the chief contributors until this magazine was incorporated in the Philharmonic in 1903. Mathews has written some excellent books on musical subjects, among them being The Great in Music; Popular History of Music; Music and Its Ideals; How to Understand Music; Complete School of Pedals; many collections of music for teaching; special editions of works of Chopin and Schumann; a revised edition of Mason's Technics; The Masters and Their Music; a Dictionary of Musical Terms; Primer of Musical Forms; and How to Understand Music. Beside his writings Mr. Mathews is a successful piano-teacher.